Yesterday was “one of those days.” I spent the day pondering my illness, the constant medical processes in my life, my sense of isolation and my losses. It seems I have failed in the work of giving primary energy to primary things. In fact, yesterday I gave up a great deal of energy obsessing on circumstances I cannot change. But there are circumstances in my life that I can change, and I made some promises to myself: 1) I will try to get out more; 2) I will work on dwelling on life’s positive aspects; and 3) I will focus on primary things and put secondary things on hold.
I received some unexpected help with Number 3 late last night. It was in the blog of Guy Sayles,* a friend I haven’t heard from in years. Stumbling across his thoughts was a serendipity for me. This is part of what he wrote.
I don’t want to reach the end, however soon or later I reach it, and have to admit that I’ve given primary energy to secondary things, toured the periphery rather than made a pilgrimage to the center, and complied with external demands instead of responding to the internal and eternal Voice. For the love of God—I mean it: for the love of God—it’s time to discover or rediscover what I most deeply believe to be true in response to questions like:
What keeps people from knowing, deep in their bones, that they are God’s beloved children? How can we help each other to know?
How can we trust that, because of God’s vast and self-giving love, there is “no condemnation” by God and “no separation” from God? What do communities enlivened by such trust look, sound and feel like? How can we fashion and sustain such communities?
How do grace and mercy heal our brokenness, even when they don’t cure our illnesses or end our pain?
How does love displace fear—in individuals; in families, tribes, and communities; and among nations?
What are the ways of life that place and keep us in harmony with the “grain of the universe”? How do we learn and encourage one another to honor them?
What does it mean—what could it mean?—that Jesus calls us his friends?
There are more. Questions like these shape my vocation now. I can’t number the times the Spirit used the poetry of Mary Oliver to call me back to my calling. It happened again last week. After she died, these words were everywhere:
“Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”
That has been my question for a very long time, for years in fact: What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?
I really must answer that one, knowing that what’s left of my life is much shorter than it used to be. It’s time — it’s past time — for me to give primary energy to primary things, and that’s not a bad idea for you either. For you see, we only get one wild and precious life — just one!
* I invite you to visit the blog written by Guy Sayles at this link: https://fromtheintersection.org/blog/